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A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

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John Bridges

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John Bridges and Bryan Curtis

As a Gentleman Would Say


John Bridges and Bryan Curtis

How to Be a Lady
Candace Simpson-Giles

How to Raise a Lady


Kay West

How to Raise a Gentleman


Kay West

A Gentleman Raises His Glass


John Bridges and Bryan Curtis

A Gentleman Pens a Note


John Bridges and Bryan Curtis

GENTLEMAN
GETS DRESSED UP
WHAT TO WEAR WHEN TO WEAR IT HOW TO WEAR IT

JOHN BRIDGES AND BRYAN CURTIS

2003 by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meanselectronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any otherexcept for brief quotations in printed reviews, without prior permission of the publisher. Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc. Thomas Nelson, Inc. titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.com. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Bridges, John, 1950 A gentleman gets dressed up : what to wear, when to wear it, how to wear it / John Bridges and Bryan Curtis. p. cm. ISBN: 978-1-4016-0111-9 (hardcover) ISBN: 978-1-4016-0126-3 (leather edition) 1. Men's clothing. 2. Men's furnishing goods. I. Curtis, Bryan, 1960 II. Title. GT1710.B75 2003 391'.1dc21 2003010206 Printed in the United States of America 07 08 09 10 11 WOR 14 13 12 11 10 9

For Sally Levine, who has little, if any, time for stuffed shirts J.B. For Mindy Henderson and Staci Joyce, for years of compliments and friendship B.C.

CONTENTS
Introduction
ix

A GENTLEMAN FROM HEAD TO TOE


Hats and Caps Haircuts and Grooming Ties and Other Neckware Shirts, Collars, and Cuffs Trousers Suits, Blazers, and Sports Coats Formalwear Shoes The Finishing Touches

13 15 24 34 53 63 70 80 98 109

A GENTLEMAN FOR ALL OCCASIONS


A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Wedding

129 132

A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Cocktail Party 138 A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Funeral 140

A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Religious Service A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Job Interview A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Concert A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Cookout A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Night on the Town A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a White-Tie Fundraiser A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Masked Ball A Gentleman Gets Ready for a Party 146 148 149 145 141 142 143 144

A GENTLMAN TAKES CARE OF HIS CLOTHES A GENTLEMAN GOES SHOPPING A GENTLEMAN IS ONLY HUMAN

151 157 171

INTRODUCTION If a gentleman is wise, he is grateful that


there are rules about a few things in life. He is particularly grateful that some of those rules apply to what he may wear or may not wear when he is lucky enough to be included in lifes special occasions. Even the most seasoned gentleman may find himself thinking twice before he begins to dress. Being a gentleman, he does not want to stand out in the crowd even if the crowd is a festive one, like the revelers at a black-tie ball, and especially if the gathering is a somber one, such as the funeral of a coworker. The gentleman desires simply to dress appropriately for the occasionbe it high-spirited and convivial or dignified and ceremonial. A gentleman takes care that he looks his best, and dresses his best, every day, since he never knows when he will meet his next major client or the love of his life. He understands that good groominglike any other aspect of the gentlemanly lifeis not a matter of money.

ix

He does not have to run up the balances on his credit cards just to keep his shoes neatly shined, his sports coat brushed, and his hair neatly trimmed. Even if his wardrobe is limited, he knows that as long as it is carefully selected and well cared for, it can take himand he can take itto lifes most challenging occasions. He can be confident that as long as his closet contains a few staples, he is ready to dress and head out the door at a moments notice. But even if he gives little thought to his appearance from day to day, and even if he has no intention of accepting an invitation to anybodys black-tie party, every gentleman knows that the moment will come when he must pay attention to which shirt he puts on his back, which jacket he dons on top of it, and perhaps even which tie he knots around his neck. This book provides detailed guidance to help the gentleman face each of lifes sartorial challengeswhether it is his college roommates wedding, a cookout with friends from the office, or his own high-pressured interview for a new job. With these guidelines, even a gentleman who

has been branded an inveterate slob can transform himself, at least on select occasions, into the tasteful, well-mannered fellow Nature intended him to be. At such moments, in fact, he may surprise himself as to how good it feels to look his best. He may even decide to make it a habit, transforming each of lifes occasions somehow into a special one. That, after all, is part of his ultimate job as a gentleman. When it comes to getting dressed, it is not a gentlemans goal to stand out from the crowd. He is confident that his intelligence, his resourcefulness, his hearty handshake, and his ready smile set him apart from all others. His clothes, he knows, are merely there to help him along. This book is there to help him too.

xi

A well-dressed gentleman knows that, once he


has left a party, it is not his clothes that will be remembered. Instead, his friends, new and old, will comment on the pleasure of his company and the charm of his conversation. Being a gentleman, those qualities are the essentials of his everyday wardrobe, no matter which suit he pulls out of the closet, no matter which necktie he chooses to go with his shirt.

xiv

xv

A gentleman acknowledges and


respects lifes varying dress codes, but even more, he respects himself.

A gentleman knows that it


is he who has been invited to the party, not his suit.

A gentleman knows that dressing


up may require going to great pains, but he knows that, ultimately, the pain will be forgotten in the fun.

A gentleman knows that looking


comfortable is far more important than looking stylish. After all, style, without comfort, is impossible.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

A gentleman understands the


importance of first impressions.

A gentleman knows that, for good or


ill, he may be making a first impression any time he walks into a room.

A gentleman knows that clothes


do not make the man. But he knows that, when making a first impression, his wardrobe may speak louder than his actionsperhaps even louder than his words.

A gentleman knows that his


clothes are the first thing others see before he has a chance to offer a handshake or open his mouth.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

If a gentleman is not comfortable in


his clothes, he creates discomfort for himself and for those around him.

Confronted with clever dress codes,


such as Festive Formal or Creative Black Tie, a gentleman has every right to dress as traditionally as he chooses.

If a gentleman is involved in the


planning of a social event, he shies away from dress codes such as Creative Black Tie or Black Tie Optional. He thinks back to the times when he was confused about what to wear to an occasion and does not pass that misery on to other gentlemen.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

No matter what the trends of


fashion, a gentleman knows the colors and cuts in which he looks best.

A gentleman dresses to his strengths. When shopping for clothes, if a


gentleman has to think twice about purchasing a garmentbe it a suit, a shirt, or a pair of sockshe is best advised to put it back on the rack.

A gentleman knows that the


simple fact that a garment comes in his size is no reason to assume that he is supposed to wear it.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

A gentleman remembers that


the models in fashion magazines are six foot four and weigh 165 pounds. If he is any shorter than that, or weighs any more, he does not assume that the clothes in the picture were automatically meant for him.

No matter how short he may be,


a gentleman stands as tall as he can.

When a gentleman is
complimented on his appearance, he accepts the compliment with good grace, saying, Thank you. Its kind of you to say that.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

When he is complimented on his


appearance, a gentleman never belittles the compliment by saying, Gosh, Ive had this old jacket since prep school. Im almost embarrassed to put it on.

Although a gentleman may not dress


in the latest style, he dresses neatly, making sure his linen is clean, his shoes are polished, and his socks do not fall down around his ankles.

A gentleman knows that the latest


style often is not the greatest style. It may, in fact, have no style at all.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

A gentleman feels complimented when


he is asked where he shops for his clothes. He does not, however, brag about his designer labels or the price tags that accompanied them.

A gentleman may wear jeans to a


semiformal occasionor even a formal occasion, if he works in the music and entertainment business. But if he chooses to do so, he mixes them with a dark sports coat (ideally a navy or black blazer), a crisply laundered white shirt, and freshly polished black shoes.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

If an invitation prescribes a casual


dress code, a gentleman takes it at its word, wearing jeans (or shorts) and a polo shirt in warm weather or a sweater and slacks in the winter. He adds a sports coat only if he wishes to do so, with full knowledge that he may wish to discard it before the evening is done.

When making a dinner reservation at


a fine restaurant (or even at a more casual restaurant), a gentleman always asks, Do you require that gentlemen wear jackets? The voice on the other end of the phone may greet him with laughter, but at least he knows that, when he arrives at the front door of the restaurant wearing a polo shirt and slacks, he will not be turned away.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

When a gentleman shows up in


an open collar and shirtsleeves at a restaurant requiring tie and jacket, he puts on whatever tie and jacket are offered him. Ill-fitting though they may be, he wears them throughout the evening without comment or complaint.

If a gentleman is new to his area


and uncertain of the dress code for any particular occasion, he asks his host or hostess for advice, admitting his ignoranceand his desire to make a good impression.

On a formal or even semiformal


evening, and whether he is wearing dinner clothes or a dark suit or sports coat, a gentleman is always prepared to remove his jacket to rescue a shivering, bare-shouldered lady.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

After requesting that friends wear


black tie for an evening at his own home, a gentleman may greet them wearing a smoking jacket, along with the remainder of black-tie regalia.

If a gentleman actually owns a smoking


jacket, he runs the risk of being deemed an eccentric by his friends.

No matter what the dress code,


a gentleman never attempts to get dressed in a hurry. Inevitably, his fingers will fumble, a button will break, or a zipper will snap. A gentleman has learned that when he allows himself ample time to dress and to care for his appearance, such lastminute difficulties seldom occur.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

10

When a gentleman has accepted the kind


invitation to be a groomsman or usher at the wedding of a friend, and when he learns that he may be asked to wear a lime-green, powder-blue, or white tuxedo, he has every right to ask, Are you sure?

If a gentleman, asked to be a groomsman


or usher at the wedding of a friend, learns that accepting that invitation means that he will be required to wear a lime-green, powder-blue, or white tuxedo, he says, Well, sure. Im so glad to be asked.

If a gentleman is not absolutely certain as


to the dress code for an occasion, he always prefers the risk of being underdressed to that of being overdressed. The former may be interpreted as a simple misunderstanding; the latter suggests conscious premeditation.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

11

A GENTLEMAN FROM HEAD TO TOE


AN OPERATORS GUIDE TO
THE WARDROBE ESSENTIALS

A gentleman knows that looking good is


not just about the grand gesturethe purchase of a trendy designer suit or a pair of obviously Italian-made lace-ups. He knows that, ultimately, being well dressed is about the detailsthe way he buttons his simple, navyblue suit jacket or the way he makes sure his penny loafers are always neatly shined. He knows that, if he pays attention, the drape of his trousers will not be destroyed by pockets made saggy by the burden of car keys, an overstuffed wallet, and a cell phone. He

13

knows that, by taking a moment before rushing out the door in the morning, he can avoid the embarrassment of discovering, shortly before lunchtime, that hes gone halfway through the day wearing mismatched socks. He knows that, with a neatly folded pocket square in his breast pocket and a crisp dimple in his tie, he can declare his personal style without making an issue of the price tag, whether great or small. A gentlemans ultimate goal is to travel through life as if he were a polished machine and a complete work of art. The following pages offer the advice, instructions, and vocabulary necessary to help him achieve that goalnot only from top to bottom, but also from the inside out.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

14

HATS AND CAPS The days are long gone when a hat was a
part of a gentlemans everyday existence. Nevertheless, if a gentleman feels comfortable in a hat, be it the familiar fedora to protect him from the chill of winter or a snappy boater to shield him from the heat of the sun, he wears itrecognizing all the while that he is likely to be in the minority these days. He may come off either as an oddity or as the object of universal admirationthe key is the gentlemans own self-confidence and personal style.

A GENTLEMAN FROM HEAD TO TOE

15

A gentleman understands that a hat


exists for utilitarian purposes, either to keep him warm or to keep him cool. He understands, therefore, that there is no reason for a hat, or a cap, to be worn inside.

A gentleman may wear his hat or


cap in the public areas of any building, other than a house of worship. He understands that public areas include elevators, department stores, and hotel lobbies. He also understands that public areas do not include the reception rooms of doctors or lawyers offices or any other place where he expects to engage in one-to-one conversation for any length of time.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

16

If a non-Jewish gentleman accepts


an invitation to a Jewish wedding ceremony, funeral, or bar or bat mitzvah, he understands that he may be expected to put on a yarmulke, at least for the time of the ceremony.

If a gentleman has elected to add


a hata fedora, a Panama, or a boater, for exampleto his celebratory getup at a wedding, he removes it inside the house of worship and under the wedding or reception tent. To make life easier for himself while inside the country club or restaurant where the reception is held, he checks his hat at the door.

A GENTLEMAN FROM HEAD TO TOE

17

If a gentleman wears a hat while


traveling on a short trip by train or bus, he may choose not to remove it or simply to hold it in his hand. For a longer trip, by train or airplane, however, he will most likely wish to remove his hat, stowing it as carefully as he can in an overhead bin or beneath the seat in front of him.

Unless a gentleman is attending a


funeral where men are expected to cover their heads, he removes his hat at any funeral or memorial service. If he attends a graveside service, especially during inclement weather, he may choose to wear his hat, although he understands that he must remove it during any formal prayers.

A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP

18

If a gentleman wears a hat of any


kind, even if it is a baseball cap, a stocking cap, or headgear associated with his favorite sports team, he removes it during prayer, during the National Anthem, and during the Pledge of Allegiance.

If a gentleman is given to wearing


outlandish headgearsuch as a plaid deerstalker or a Russian sable cap with earflapshe understands that he is likely to attract attention.

If a gentleman is given to wearing


Russian sable caps with earflaps, he may wish to consult a doctor about his need for attention.

A GENTLEMAN FROM HEAD TO TOE

19